In fall 2005 life in south Louisiana changed forever. The hurricanes that year took many lives, both human and animal. Three years later another severe storm season ravaged the state, although this time communities had pulled together to develop functional disaster plans ahead of time that accounted for pets, horses, and other agriculture animals and, thus, saved lives. Last year marks one of the worst in the world in terms of natural and man-made disasters–the earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear reactor crisis in Japan; floods in Australia; earthquakes in New Zealand; wildfires, massive flooding, and tornadoes across the United States. Even though planning for events such as the tornadoes that wiped out towns in Alabama, Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky are impossible to prepare for completely, the aftermath response, recovery, and restoration of these communities or any community affected by a disaster will be far better–and the road to recovery much quicker—if planning and forethought precede these scenarios.
Community disaster planning begins at home and in neighborhoods. It begins with understanding your farm and community’s risk for wildfires, storm outbreaks, hurricanes, earthquakes, and chemical mishaps. Equally as important is community networking functionality. Families and communities must be able to identify their local resources, because disaster response begins locally. Well-prepared horse owners should be able to answer these questions:
1) Do I have contact information for local equine veterinarians, agricultural extension agents, animal control officers, and local emergency manager(s)–those experts or officials who might be able to provide assistance in an emergency?